A Harbor for the Downtown Crowd at Atlantic No. 5

By Baylee Pendleton

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

If you walk into Atlantic No. 5 on any given day, you’ll hear the quiet hum of espresso machines, bubbling conversation and background music of the acoustic variety. The bell will chime as you walk in, and you’ll be greeted warmly as you’d expect in any such establishment. In my experience, though, there’s much more behind this eatery than just these normal, cafe rhythms.

On my first day with The Voice-Tribune team, I popped into Atlantic No. 5 for what I thought would be a routine lunch jaunt, rushing because I wanted to get back to my desk. Walking briskly and a bit distracted, I was several steps into the cafe before it hit me: this place is anything but routine.

Large windows facing Main Street light the shop’s interior, and exposed brick contrasts with crisp, white walls and cheery lighting. The large display case holds the day’s breakfast and lunch specials, and the pastry stands on the counter tempt you with a revolving selection of desserts. On both ends of the cafe, co-owners and operating partners Rebecca Johnson and Mary Wheatley have installed retail shelves, selling a variety of local food items like salsa, chutney, dressings and the like.

Johnson and Wheatley bought Atlantic No. 5 three and a half years ago, intending to attract the downtown business crowd with fresh and healthy options for breakfast and lunch. Omnivores, gluten-free patrons and vegetarians alike can find something on this menu, which combines standing items with daily specials.

Breakfast focuses on items like egg sandwiches, a daily frittata and their famous biscuits. The biscuits – doughy on the inside with a well-preserved crust on the outside – are a standout served with jam and butter. The David ($6) is a delicious, open-faced sandwich on Blue Dog Bakery levain bread topped with tomato smear, olive oil, mashed avocado, scrambled egg, bacon and arugula.

The soup-salad-sandwich lunch menu includes the A5 Grilled Cheese ($9), which pairs well with their Creamy Tomato Soup ($3.50). Any panini they have on special will be delicious – and I do mean any. The Powerhouse Salad ($9) is a great working lunch option with fresh greens, dried cranberries, edamame, toasted chickpeas, sliced cucumber, pickled red onion and caramelized sunflower seeds.

And of course, there’s the coffee. Atlantic No. 5 serves Sunergos coffee, a Louisville favorite, whether you opt for a black drip or a sweet cappuccino. Don’t leave without a coffee and oatmeal cream pie in hand. If you were looking for more reasons to stop in, the shop now serves gelato.

In the weeks following my initial visit, I’ve found myself returning to Atlantic No. 5, perhaps more often than I really need to. Walks away from my computer during break time always seem to end back at their door, where I’ve created some excuse to pick out a sweet afternoon treat or yet another cup of coffee. But ultimately, it’s not the food or drinks that keep calling me back. From day one, I was treated like a member of some informal klatch and was always asked about how my day was and how my work was going. That’s what kept calling me back. Two weeks later, I had favorite menu items. By week three, everyone behind the counter knew my name.

Atlantic No. 5 goes beyond the basic norms of a routine eatery, welcoming you into a community of hospitality, warmth and beauty. Visit expecting delicious eats, but leave with something more. VT

Atlantic No. 5

605 W. Main St.

502.883.3398

atlanticno5.com

7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday